Hot cross buns. The best thing about Easter, besides all the long weekends of course.
While the shop-bought varieties are yummy enough, I was keen to make my own batch this year, from scratch. I can highly recommend it! The smell of warm spices and fresh bread fills every nook and cranny of your home, and at the end you can tear open a steaming bun and spread it with creamy farm butter. Delicious.
A huge thanks to my friend Jeanie Nel who helped me with this. She has magic hands when it comes to baking and, aside from Ladurée in Italy, makes the best macarons in this life. We decided to put a twist on the classic recipe, replacing sultanas / raisins with a mixture of nectarines, peaches and pears (I bought this one). You can use sweet dried apricots for a similar effect. We also added some salted macadamia nuts for texture and flavour. I think it turned out brilliantly.
Try it out and let me know what you think.
Makes: 12-14 buns
Time: 2,5 hours
200ml low fat milk
55g unsalted butter
14g dried yeast
455g cake wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
55g caster sugar
1 jumbo free-range egg
55 g dried apricot, peaches and pear mix, chopped up
100 g salted macadamia nuts, roughly crushed
Runny honey to glaze
For the cross:
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons water
Add the milk and 50ml water to a pan and heat up until lukewarm.
Add the butter to a separate pan and leave on a medium heat until melted.
Remove the milk from the heat. Stir in the yeast and set aside.
Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the salt, spices and sugar.
Make a well in the center of the flour and spices. Add the melted butter and the yeast mixture.
Beat the egg in a small bowl and add it to the flour mixture.
Use a fork to mix the ingredients together until you have a rough dough.
Transfer the ingredients to a clean, flour-dusted surface. Knead for around 10 minutes or until the dough has a soft, springy quality. Dust with more flour if necessary until the consistency is right.
Dust a bowl with some flour. Add the dough, cover with a damp towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until it has doubled in size. (Tip: if you don’t have a sunny spot for the dough, you can place it in the oven at 70°C.)
When the dough has risen enough, transfer it to a clean, flour-dusted surface. Knock out the air with your fist, then sprinkle over the nuts and fruit. Fold it into the dough and keep at it until everything is well combined.
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease a baking tray and line with wax paper.
Divide the dough into 12 – 14 equal size pieces and form them into balls. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. (We placed it on a chair next to the heated oven)
For the cross: Combine 2 tablespoons flour with 2 tablespoons of water and mix well. The paste should be slightly liquid but not too runny or thick. We used a piping bag to form the cross, but you can also use a fork to create the lines.
Once the buns have risen, trace the cross over.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden. When done, transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool slightly.
Melt your honey slightly for 10 seconds in the microwave. Brush over the buns.
Serve with a spread of salted butter.